During a recent trip with some car-buddies to the Hamburg Motor Classics exhibition, we grasped the opportunity to “taste a bit of the classic car life” in Hamburg and its surroundings, seeing as we were there anyway.
We (two young classic car enthusiasts: Norbert and Ingmar – and I) set the course a little southward from Hamburg. Many who pass this area regularly, have probably – like I have – noticed the exit with the sign “Geesthacht” when the Autobahn passes Hamburg on its way southbound. The area is very much an outer area which is connected to the vast marshland to the west and it’s mostly flat and sandy. Does this make you think of potatoes – and even more so of asparagus (in German called: Stangenspargel) in the early summer months? Yes, indeed! In the ideal world, the latter should naturally be enjoyed with a whipped, light and airy Hollandaise sauce and a glass of “crisp” Riesling from the riverbanks of the Rhine.
But is the area suitable for driving a classic car? Also here the answer is: Yes, indeed! Backroads zigzag through fields with beautiful views of autumn colors and birch trees. Sadly, we found ourselves in a modern BMW, but even it seemed to get kind of excited and took part in our high spirits. As a Dane, I also feel “connected” to the area, since the Duchy of Saxony-Lauenborg (which it was called back then) until 1864 was a part of Denmark. The city of Lauenburg itself is beautifully situated by the Elbe River. I have previously only had very sporadic acquaintances with the Elbe River, but thoroughly enjoyed experiencing its elegant twists and turns through Dresden and up through the German countryside until it eventually reaches the port of Hamburg, from where it continues out into the North Sea. This was my first visit to the city Lauenburg, but I can now repeat what I have said so many times before: Germany truly is full of lovely places which we tend to forget, as we more often than not merely head towards the southern parts of Europe at warp speed, through the “corridor of the Autobahn”.
One of my travel companions, classic car photographer Ingmar Bötker, knows Jasper Eckert who together with his father runs the family company “Fineeleven” in Brietlingen – just outside Lauenburg. As the name suggests: switch “F” with “N”… it’s of course Porsche 911… and it’s air-cooled.
Despite us arriving on a Sunday, Jasper kindly opened the doors for us… and the very first thing which meet our hungry eyes as we stepped through the doorway, was this fabulous 911S G-model from 1974. The color is called “Lachsdiamant Metallic” (translates to “Salmon Diamond Metallic”) – and the matching interior “Blutorange” (translates to “Blood Orange”). The car was offered for sale at approximately GBP 61,500.
So you’re a self-confessed purist who needs every 911 to be the earlier F-model? Well fear not, as Fineeleven also had this very fine example.
Fineeleven specializes in restoring and selling, primarily Porsche 911 F- and G-models – or air-cooled 911s in general. The restoration can range right from being true and loyal to the original car, to a more open-minded approach including various modifications, e.g. where a G-model (typically a Carrera 3.2 from 1984 – 1989) is backdated into a F-model.
During the restoration, Fineeleven make sure, as far as physically possible, that they only do the necessary welding in the original weld spots. That way, should the owner regret the conversion at a later stage, the car can always be returned back to its original state. This is their so-called “Signature Series” where the owner himself has a great deal of influence on the restoration – in fact, in principle the limits are only set by how deep the owner’s wallet is. Regarding that wallet, Jasper told us that the Hamburg area has the highest concentration of 911’s in all of Germany, so needless to say, it’s a pretty good idea to be located in this area, as a 911 specialist.
This Targa is just one example of their “Signature Series”. This 911-owner’s better half is an interior designer, and she has chosen the textiles – it looks very tasteful.
In my humble opinion, these restorations executed by Fineeleven are a matter of better taste than for example those made by Singer. As we probably all know, Singer’s restorations are based on the Porsche 964 and exterior wise they are then turned back to something vaguely resembling a F-model. Some may counter: “Well, the 964 is a much better car; with its substantially revised suspension, replacing torsion bars with coil springs and multi-link layout in the rear end, power steering and ABS brakes, revised gearbox, new engine (M64 with a flat-6 displacement of 3.6-litres), just to mention some of the changes”. And strictly speaking they would of course be right about all of this, but… if all you want is a “better” 911, then why not just take a 964 and let it be itself – thereby clearly displaying that it is that much “better”? Or perhaps buy a 993 as that is of course even “better” still. Fineeleven is capable of doing most things, but as Jasper said, “We draw the line by making old to newer”. Therefore, “converting” a F-model to a G-model is a no-go at Fineeleven. But they will entertain most ideas and also assist you with their own. If for example you do not have your own ideas for the interior, then Fineeleven has access to the original Porsche textiles, as seen in this gorgeous “Eisgrün Metallic” Carrera 3.0.
And should you become inspired by all these brilliant Porsche textiles and get interested in other kinds of merchandise, then Fineeleven even have that covered too with various bags and suitcases.
Your dream 911 refurbishment/restoration can be based on an air-cooled 911, which you find yourself and deliver to Fineeleven, or alternatively Fineeleven also find and purchase air-cooled 911s themselves. Jasper suggested that we should go and have a look at the collection that was gathered in a nearby barn – they were literally “Barn Finds”…
However, first we had to solemnly swear not to ever reveal the location; we promised, since as the lyrics say in a Danish folklore song:
For boy will gather berry,
And fox he comes to bite.
That’s why I am so wary
And keep my lips shut tight.
We could have – and probably should have – driven to the barn in a Porsche, but Jasper had one of his friends visiting from Berlin, who happens to work for Mercedes-Benz, so instead we ended up taking a spin in a G500 4×42.
The Mercedes G500 4×42comes right up against the legal limitations of driving with a “standard” driver’s license as it weighs an astonishing 3,490 kg. (the limit is 3,500 kg. – at least within the EU). However, all that weight was by no means a barrier for its performance; there was plenty of power in the AMG V8. Likewise, its abilities in the terrain were absolutely fine, although the ride height was extremely high. I haven’t experienced anything similar since doing my military service many years ago. Suddenly, I clearly remembered our Sergeant shouting: “Get off!” as we were attempting to get down from the bedside of the Bedford truck… wearing full military equipment and gear of course. If you didn’t remember to absorb the impact of your landing, the steel helmet would whack you across the nose… I still remember the pain.
The collection of 911s in the barn was rather impressive – a scoop for three photo enthusiasts with a deep love for classic cars… I was drawn to a black Porsche 930 (911 Turbo) which it transpired was owned by a Danish customer who wanted the colour returned to the original “Eisgrün Metallic”. But otherwise, all the other 911s were for sale along the principle that one chooses a Porsche, in much the same way as when you go to a fish restaurant in Southern France: ordering a “Dorade a croûte de seal” (sea bass baked in oven, covered in salt) and then being asked to choose your own “personal fish” for the dinner.
As you can see from this and other articles recently published on ViaRETRO, there are several excellent “classic reasons” for visiting Hamburg… It comes highly recommended – possibly even in your classic car, if you’re undertaking a classic car tour of Europe anyway.